State Department’s ‘Climate Change’ Page Dramatically Altered Online

By Yessenia Funes Mar 24, 2017

The Trump administration has made significant changes on the State Department’s climate change website, per research group Climate Central, which obtained the information from the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative.

The changes went into effect following the confirmation of Secretary Rex Tillerson on February 1, but Climate Central took note of it yesterday (March 23). So far, these changes are the only ones made, the Initiative told Climate Central.

During the presidency of Barack Obama, the department made it clear on its website that it was working to address climate change internationally. It mentioned specific ways it would do that, including Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Here is the old text with emphasis on key phrases:

The Office of Global Change (OES/EGC) works on a broad range of international climate change issues, under the guidance of the Special Envoy for Climate Change. The United States is taking a leading role by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures at home and abroad. The President’s Climate Action Plan highlights unprecedented efforts by the United States to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean sources of energy that create jobs, protect communities from the impacts of climate change, and work with partners to lead international climate change efforts. The working partnerships the United States has created or strengthened with other major economies has reinforced the importance of results-driven action both internationally and domestically and are achieving measurable impacts now to help countries reduce their long-term greenhouse gas emissions.

The language under President Donald Trump is a lot less detailed. The new text defines the role but doesn’t clarify much of how its mission will be implemented.

The text now reads:

The Office of Global Change represents the United States in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in many other international forums on climate change, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization. The office also leads U.S. government participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses scientific and technical information related to climate change. The office is further responsible for coordinating a number of bilateral and regional partnerships on climate change, as well as U.S. foreign assistance related to clean energy, adaptation, and sustainable landscapes.

Climate Central reports that other website changes include removing reports and statements on climate change. “On their own, they are small changes and are to be expected with any new administration,” writes Climate Central. “But they didn’t happen in a vacuum and taken with other actions, they offer insights into America’s climate change strategy abroad.”

The White House’s proposed budget does include discontinuing “international climate change programs,” and its current policies aren’t putting it on track to meet the goals put forth in the international climate agreement made in Paris in 2015. The secretary has yet to speak out on his global strategy with regards to climate change.

Previous government websites to see language changes related to climate change include the EPA’s and the White House’s.

(H/t Climate Central)